The P.E.I. government has responded to calls for support for the struggling accommodations sector by unveiling another gift card incentive program.
Hotels, motels and other operators that rely on tourists from outside the Island have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and are in their 15th month of limits on who is allowed to enter the province.
Thursday's announcement from the King government is aimed at encouraging Islanders to take staycations, with each consecutive two-night stay "at a qualifying P.E.I. accommodation" giving them a $100 Canada's Food Island gift card.
The cards are redeemable for restaurant meals, food, entertainment, goods and services at participating businesses across the Island.
"P.E.I. accommodation operators who are interested in participating in the gift card incentive program can review eligibility criteria and register their accommodation before June 13," said a provincial news release.
The staycation incentive plan will run from June 15 to July 31, "or while gift card quantities last," the news release said.
We encourage all Islanders to start planning their dream staycation and we can't wait to welcome Atlantic visitors in the weeks to come. — John Cudmore
The Hotel Association of P.E.I. and Food Island Partnership are also involved in offering the promotion.
"We're excited about this new gift card incentive program and thank the government of Prince Edward Island for their support," John Cudmore, president of the Hotel Association of P.E.I., was quoted as saying in the news release.
"We encourage all Islanders to start planning their dream staycation and we can't wait to welcome Atlantic visitors in the weeks to come."
The provincial government has been under pressure to come up with a way to help Island tourism operators in the face of a second summer of restrictions — especially since neighbouring New Brunswick is reopening earlier than P.E.I. and offering an "Explore New Brunswick" promotion to attract Atlantic residents.
That program lets people claim a 20 per cent rebate on travel expenses of up to $1,000 that includes overnight stays in New Brunswick, until Oct. 31.
New Brunswick is also planning to open its borders to tourists from outside Atlantic Canada on July 1, saying they won't have to isolate as long as they have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
By comparison, P.E.I. plans to begin allowing only travellers from Atlantic Canada to enter without isolating starting June 27, if they have one dose of vaccine. The province will remain closed to most tourists from outside the Atlantic region until Sept. 12.
Earlier this spring, a "Stay and Savour" promotion on P.E.I. had accommodations operators giving out Canada's Food Island gift cards as part of staycation packages.
As well, Islanders rushed to take advantage of a 50-per-cent-off promotion for sit-down meals at participating P.E.I. restaurants, with the province contributing money to the restaurants to cover the rest of the menu price of the meals.
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